Saturday, 7 May 2016

Fallout 4/ PS4

$ 750 million in 24 hours are the statistics for revenue generated from sales of Fallout 4 on the opening day of its release. £15 in the UK is now the average price that you can buy the game for, suggesting that it didn't quite live up to the hype. A large percentage of the world of gamers (including me) were going nuts at the announcement of the pre-order and were quick to put a computer game on par with big budget movie releases in terms of hysteria and sales. I have no doubt that the day will soon come when it is the norm for star movie actors to be making the bulk of their bucks voice acting and lending their likeness to the gaming industry. It is a shame that Bethesda didn't invest in a star or two for this outing. Get ready for mixed feeling's about my 20+ hours of play so far.

I had taken my time in purchasing this game, not because it didn't appeal to me upon its release, but simply because responsible parenting put my pre-order on the back burner as I took care of the needs of my son; especially given that it was so close to Christmas. At a glance I was captivated by how Fallout 4 looks, pretty much in the same way that I was captivated by the look of Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas when diving into both of those games. As I have dived further into Fallout 4, twice I have been up almost to greet the next day sun, on a work day, with many long sessions also and I am yet to feel as though I have begun to get into the storyline. This review will be my scratchings of the surface of a game that appears to be the biggest Fallout adventure yet (and possibly the biggest disappointment).

The further I get into the game, the more it is growing on me. So much so that I am now playing it more than any other game. You could say that Fallout 4 is a wine that is maturing rather than being a vintage. 

The Plot

The game begins with the setting of your character of choice and his/her family playing it all happy. The year is 2077, date October 23 rd, the day that the world decides to go nuclear big time (also the day that you conveniently get accepted for a place in vault 111). 
 After deciding on the sex and appearance of your character, you take a little look around the family home (a futuristic 50's style setting), and then bare witness to the nukes going off which sends panic throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. As you, your partner and tiny baby rush towards the vault at the bottom of the street (very convenient), another bomb goes off close by. As the blast rips through everything in sight, racing towards you, the vault closes just in time for yourself and family, leaving a handful of people helplessly outside to be toast, slightly on the burnt side. Ushered inside the vault, you are told that you will be frozen in time whilst the dust of nuclear fallout settles. Piece of piss! Bombs dropped, your inside a vault about to have a nap until it is safe to go outside again..... Ha! Never is life so simple (especially life in Fallout). You wake inside your cryogenic chamber (after time unknown) as the witness to your baby being snatched from the arms of your partner who is shot dead as this is happening; you black out and wake again to an abandoned vault as the only survivor left inside. You make your way out of the vault and back to the street that you once lived, to be told by your old house robot that over 200 years have passed since you went underground. Pretty impressive way to start a game; pretty depressive for your character. From here on out the rest of what's left of Boston becomes your play area as you meet the survivors and decide on who to befriend whilst searching to see if your baby is still alive.  

Gameplay (Open world,  RPG, First and Third Person)      

Once outside of the vault, after your awakening, the first thing to be noted is that the graphics of Fallout have been massively updated, combining Bethesda's Creation Engine (updated from the Skyrim engine) with Havok Behaviour, you will be reminded how much so every time that there is a loading screen, as in game characters are shown off as you wait (common in many games today). Whilst I can appreciate Bethesda's use of this combination I would very much like to see a Fallout game using the Unreal engine in future or another link up with sister company id Software. When they hooked with id for Rage, the graphics were mind blowing. Being a huge fan of Unreal, I would be interested to know if there is any potential for a collaboration. The graphics are so in your face that it kind of distracts you from the fact that there are many flaws in the actual physics of the game play. 

Back to Fallout 4. 
 It looks really good to say the least. I love the weather (excuse me, I'm English). The first time that a radioactive thunderstorm broke out I stayed hidden inside the back of a burnt out bus terrified to move as my character was irradiated every time lighting struck. The environment and the AI are highly detailed, with the environment standing out right away and an appreciation for everything else slipping into consciousness as the game pans out; possibly because it takes a little getting used to that everything is moving so fast. The only defect that I have noted so far is that when you are looking out across the landscape from the tall's of a building, there are small glitches in some of the buildings that you are viewing form afar and there are the familiar creepy glitches where objects such as skeletons will randomly move on their own or objects may appear floating in the space. (shit like this is simply Fallout). Apart from this, the game is a beauty to the eye with many opportunities to pause to take a good look around the environment and upload fabulous shots to social networking sites. There is a main storyline and as to be expected with open world games today, many side missions to take part in if you wish to, taking the total playable hours of the game into the hundreds if you are the type of player that likes to explore rather than blast straight through the main story.
I will be totally honest and say this. For me the story comes second to exploring the ruins left over from the nuclear war. It is something that truly fascinates and delights me; quite possibly because I admire that as a species humans are so adapt to overcoming the most extreme of circumstances here on earth (ice age springs to mind). Plus I am the type of person who enjoys wandering alone for hours. To give you an idea of how much there is to explore in the game, I can tell you that I am yet to reach Diamond City, the first major destination that you must travel to.

'I have recently just gotten to Diamond City after what must be close to 30 hours of play.'

Simply because along the way there are many sights to be explored as well as many challenges and side quest as you head towards it. If you happen to be a hoarder like myself, then you simply must explore every area of a building and collect every bit of junk possible before moving on to the next area or back to your town to drop off what you have collected to make room for yet more junk collecting. (I find this to be a satisfying way of keeping my OCD out of my own living space at home). Add to this the side quests and the fact that you can now build your own settlements, you may find on many occasions that you look at the clock and think fuck! I haven't even done anything yet. Plus there are going to be many, many, many re-loads as the game is rather challenging at times.
 Which brings us to settlement building. New to Fallout, you can now build, supply and defend your own settlements, not quite GTA gang banging, but a pleasant addition, one that messes with my OCD. It isn't easy to line up your chosen objects exactly how you would like to and I fear that the system for doing so wasn't planned out for people such as myself or planned out so that it considers the lumps and bumps of the surface areas that you build on.
'I don't want my fence poles hovering above the ground just because they don't bend with the contours of the land.' I want everything to look as tidy as can possibly be in a nuclear wasteland. (Is this being picky)? It is fun to build things though and a highly addictive way to get lost in doing nothing other than showing off pictures that you've uploaded to your online communities. Inside the boundaries of your settlements, almost anything not nailed down can be turned into usable materials for building and almost anything scavenge elsewhere can be added to the bigger parts that you collect.
Go go Power Rangers
 Playing the game itself also leaves mixed emotions. Everything seems to be moving faster....says the old man in me. V.A.T.S is no longer a blast-fest, as enemies will still move towards you whilst you target them and throwing grenades or explosives feels like a waste of time because the enemy AI will mostly just come straight at you rather than take cover, meaning that they will be out of the blast radius before explosion on most occasions. Your weapons and ammo at the start of the game also do not seem to match the excitement of your enemies. For example, you come up against a deathclaw within the first hour of play, when you are just beginning to scavenge for weapons and parts with which you can modify them with. Fair enough you also step into your first suit of power armour (so cool) and pick up a mini gun, but even that doesn't make it an easy task to take out the giant and powerful beast which is the deathclaw. Enemies will also ambush you a lot, seeming to come out of nowhere to surround you at a lighting fast pace that has you retreating whilst panic pressing buttons as you attempt to remember your quick items. I have found the fighting mechanics in Fallout 4 a little frustrating at times. Sometimes you feel like you are in a battle that is satisfying to come out of and others you feel as though the pace has been set too quickly and does not match up with your level, perks or weapons of the moment. Perhaps I am picking too much. You can after all step into suits of power armour and this in itself is a brilliant addition to the game (if you can find the fusion core to power it up). You can modify power amour. You can also modify almost anything that you acquire weapon wise making for some interesting ways of killing that which must be killed. And there is lots to be killed, with pretty much the same enemies that can be found in the previous two Bethesda Fallout titles as your targets to practice on. Lacking some originality on that front, but the enemies do look a heck of a lot more frightening; ghouls being a little more zombie like. Whilst I am having a cry though I will also add that the local map on the pip boy is a waste of time as it literally looks like all that are looking at is a load of waste that you cannot make sense of. Other than that, the pip boy is pretty much the same crack as the last two Fallout games; easy to get into and make use of. If you would like to read about the real pip boy that came out with the special addition release of the game, I have included a link that bursts the bubble of its wow factor that it had over people at the time of the pre-orders.

Sound wise the game is a delight to the ears. The effects seem to have an added realism to them this time around and the voice acting has improved, though not hugely. Once in dialogue with another character, rather than just seeing the person you are speaking to and a whole load of options for replying and asking questions, the screen will now shift from character to character depending on who is speaking, leaving a small collection of responses floating nearby when it is your turn to speak. I feel that a future Fallout game could make heavy use of some more well known voice actors, which would notch it up even further on the amazing games to play list. Given that the game made so much money, Bethesda could certainly pay actors the bucks and possibly make a less shitty pip boy for the fans of the game.
The music is retro in the style of 50's with more tracks being added to the radio stations playlist for this Fallout outing, meaning that there is a slightly less monotonous vibe about them. There is also a classical radio station which sounds tremendous when you are heading into battle. Hands up if you like 50's music just because you discovered it through playing Fallout.

And so we come to the end of this review with a little more to be added once I have finished the game.

Fallout 4 at this stage scores an 8 out of 10
So far it delights the senses whilst at the same feeling like it just doesn't have the wow factor of both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas; both of which sucked me in and did not let me go until the end.
It is though without a doubt one of the biggest adventures on PS4 so far. 
If you are reading these reviews and would like to know when the next one has been released then feel free to hit me up on Twitter @DanLumma
You can often find me streaming my adventures online via Twitch and Ustream under the name of CarlosJuanWolf.
You are also welcome to comment below on your thoughts about this review or the game itself. 
Happy Gaming.